The Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council has written a stark letter to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, outlining how a Met Police trial, which launched in April 2017, is struggling to deliver effective policing in the borough.
In the letter, dated 4 August, Councillor Darren Rodwell said: “Residents need reassurance in the form of a visible police presence and I am unconvinced that the Basic Command Unit (BCU) will be able to deliver this as it currently stands.”
Cllr Rodwell added: “Three months on it is apparent we are nowhere near providing the service we need to keep our residents safe.”
The East Area BCU is a partnership formed from Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge, and Havering. A separate BCU trial in the capital, Central North BCU, joins Islington and Camden.
The new initiative was announced by the Met Police at the end of last year as part of a major shake-up of the service.
The trial scheme shares people, buildings, technology and vehicles across borough boundaries with a view to evenly distributing police resources, something Cllr Rodwell said he had “hoped would boost police officer numbers” but the BCU had not achieved.
“It is evident that Barking and Dagenham is under resourced and our BCU is unable to provide proactive and visible policing at this moment in time,” said Cllr Rodwell.
Just 52% of emergency calls in our borough responded to within Met’s target time
He added: “The most recent figures I have seen for police response times show just 52% of emergency calls in our borough are being responded to within the Met’s own target time – the worst in London. This is shocking and simply not good enough for our residents.”
Barking and Dagenham, which has seen an increase of 20,000 in population since the 2011 census, has suffered the third sharpest cut in police numbers in the capital over the last couple of years with police numbers falling 15%.
Only Wandsworth and Bromley have suffered worse cuts in frontline services but, according to Cllr Rodwell, neither faces the same kind of crime that can “only be countered with more proactive and visible community policing”.
In the missive, he also states he is “totally opposed” to any plans to close police stations, adding: “Residents’ anxieties will increase yet further if we are to lose six buildings, including Dagenham Police Station.”
I want to see the BCU succeed
Cllr Rodwell also addresses Barking and Dagenham having the second highest number of acid attacks in all London boroughs over the last five years: “The Met are working hard to tackle the issue and as a Council, we will also be doing all we can alongside the BCU to crackdown on those whose commit acid attacks.”
He signs off the letter stating: “I want to see the BCU succeed but this will be impossible if it does not have the resources it needs to meet the challenge presented by our growing population, high levels of crime and our changing position in London.”